Small voices tackle big show

St. Michaels University School takes on Die Fledermaus.

Alexandra Toaxen, left, Sava Bell and Cole Pontefract are three of the talented students that tackle Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at the McPherson Playhouse June 2 and 3.

Alexandra Toaxen, left, Sava Bell and Cole Pontefract are three of the talented students that tackle Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at the McPherson Playhouse June 2 and 3.

Forty-two little voices will absolutely amaze you with their talent in St. Michaels University School’s production of Die Fledermaus.

The operetta, written by Johann Strauss in 1874, is the perfect production for St. Mike’s young Grade 5 students to tackle, says Junior and Middle school choir teacher Duncan Frater.

“Their voices are so flexible. If you tell a child he or she can do something, they say “OK”. Yes, it’s difficult (music) but at their age they don’t understand what that means. I avoid the word and just keep cheering them on,” says Frater. “I’m always amazed by what their voices can do, that ours can’t anymore.”

Frater has been challenging his Grade 5 kids with operettas for the past five years, Die Fledermaus is also the first one they produced.

“It’s a heavily edited version of Die Fledermaus, in English. I tried to keep all the same melodies and defiantly try to shorten it so it’s not three hours long – ours is an hour-and-a-half,” he says.

The show includes waltzes and polkas, which the 10 and 11-year-olds took to slowly.

“At first they grumbled about it but now … they’re still not keen, but they don’t complain, it’s really cute,” says Frater, a classically trained musician.

“This is a good way to share my love of classical music with people. It’s the perfect operetta to bridge (classical music and opera). The music is easy to listen to and it’s still written by one of the greatest composers. It’s attainable, not stuffy or heavy, boring and long-winded.”

 

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